Cardinal Vincent Nichols has spoken of his sorrow at the drownings of 27 migrants in the English Channel.
A pregnant woman and three children were among the dead in the worst tragedy in the Channel since the migrant crisis began as they tried to cross in a boat one French Minister likened to a paddling pool.
Cardinal Nichols said: “The terrible loss of so many lives in the Channel is a tragic summons to action.
“This event illustrates graphically both the ruthless evil of the traffickers and the desperation of those trying to escape poverty, conflict or persecution in search of a better life.”
He added: “Every one is a child of God, with an innate dignity and worth.
“Focussed international cooperation, safe routes to sanctuary and joint efforts to tackle poverty are all needed in the face of a global flood of desperate humanity.”
France was subsequently criticised by the British Government for failing to halt the flow or migrants to the Channel, to prevent them putting to see in dangerous boats and for allowing trafficking gangs to operate on its territory.
Paris has also resisted offers from Home Secretary Priti Patel of British police officers to help patrol the beaches and prevent the migrants – who are already in a safe country – from making the perilous crossing.
After holding talks with Gerald Darmanin, she said: “We absolutely encourage them and urge them to take these offers forward.”
Mrs Patel told the Commons she has asked the French to “put more officers on the ground and do absolutely whatever is necessary to secure the area so that vulnerable people do not risk their lives by getting into unseaworthy boats”.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said the migrants “don’t want to stay” in France to claim asylum, even though they are told they can.
Speaking at a press conference in Zagreb, Mr Macron said he was going to encourage Britain to pick the migrants up at sea, arguing that France was merely a transit country.
It has been claimed that many would prefer to live in the UK because they believe there are better job opportunities and benefits.
Those who drowned included seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and a girl. Two of the survivors were from Somalia and Iraq.
So far, an estimated 6,000 migrants have succeeded in crossing the Channel in November alone, some of them paying traffickers between 2,000 and 15,000 euros for a chance to climb into a boat.
A total of 27,000 migrants have made the crossing during 2021 and the French authorities, who have been paid £54million by the UK to end the crisis, say they have arrested about 1,500 people smugglers.
The UK has received nearly 38,000 asylum applications in the past year, the highest number since 2004.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund